SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco prosecutors have charged 16 people in a retail theft ring that stole more than $200,000 worth of clothing, purses and other merchandise from high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo, the district attorney's office said Monday.
Ten more people have been charged in other Western U.S. cities where the group stole an additional $200,000 worth of merchandise, including Honolulu and Seattle, prosecutors said. The group is accused in dozens of thefts dating back to 2015.
"We're taking something that on its face might have been a single or maybe two or three events, and we have been able to connect this to many other events," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said at a news conference announcing the charges.
Linking the defendants to multiple thefts increases the potential sentences they face, he said.
The group in some cases sent as many as 10 or 12 people into a store with bags to grab as much merchandise as possible before running out the door, Assistant District Attorney Frank Carrubba said.
Some of the thefts became violent, with the thieves using pepper spray on store employees or brandishing knives, Carrubba said. There were often getaway drivers.
The charges filed include robbery, grand theft and commercial burglary.